As I write this article, it’s Friday, Black Friday! November 29th, the day after Thanksgiving. We'd just finished our last forkful of pumpkin pie, when we found ourselves hurtled headfirst into the maelstrom that is the American Holiday Machine. People are running around like the world will end if they don’t get that great deal. Every channel has announcers screaming at you in frantic tones – doors open at 8 p.m.! Save up to 50% on 55 inch LED TVs, just $399! Save up to 50% on Samsung French door refrigerators, just $849! There are ‘doorbusters’ everywhere, designed to create frenzy and mayhem. The recent trend has pushed Black Friday back to Thursday, Thanksgiving Day! “No seconds for me, Mom. Gotta get to Best Buy and get that flat screen!” I even saw ads for Kmart opening as early as 7 a.m. Thanksgiving Day! When did all this madness begin?
When I was growing up you couldn’t even buy milk on Thanksgiving and Christmas day. Whatever you needed, if you didn’t buy it the day before, it was too late! The entire city was shut down and it was wonderful. Like a holy blanket of peace had settled on the whole town.
As for me, I’m dreaming of a relaxed, stress free Christmas. The older I get, the more I’m learning the beauty of simplicity.
Dr. Seuss’ Grinch Who Stole Christmas taught a valuable lesson. Despite all the Grinch’s efforts to rid Whoville of its holiday celebration, the spirit of Christmas remained in the hearts of the people. “It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags.” To quote from Bill McKibbon’s Hundred Dollar Holiday, “After puzzling three hours ‘til his puzzler was sore, the Grinch was forced to conclude that Christmas came from no store.”
So I’m sitting Black Friday out, still resting from my back injury and resolving not to jump on the ‘holiday’ hamster wheel.
I resolve to keep Christ at the center of Christmas. He is the true gift, born in a lowly manger and gloriously born in my heart some 30 years ago.
So at least for now, we won’t be competing in the city-wide holiday home decorating contest. We won’t be going into debt buying exorbitant gifts we can’t afford.
We will continue our tradition of picking a lovely tree from our local Home Depot. Would love to hike our way into the distant hills and cut one down our selves, but that’s just not hapnin’ this year. We will trim the tree together as Nat King Cole croons in the background about chestnuts roasting on an open fire. For Christmas dinner, we will cook most dishes from scratch. But Jesus won’t fall off His throne, if we include some doctored up store bought items! Perhaps like last year, we will gather with friends and go Christmas caroling, returning to the house afterwards for hot chocolate and cookies.
Keep it simple. Right now, this is my earnest intention. But I also know, I tend to be an overachiever at heart; and it may be that once my back improves I might be tempted to start scurrying about like a chicken, stringing lights from every village and every hamlet. So remind me friends, what are ways you avoid the holiday materialism bandwagon?
What are some practical things you do to keep Christ smack dab in the middle of your Christmas?